Give Good Over Gifts: How Leveraging Your Social Network Can Drive Impact
Whether you’re willing to go to great lengths for the perfect Instagram shot or you’re an avid tweeter, I’ll bet that you have, at some point in your life, formed an impression of someone based on information from social media. We exchange handles in lieu of business cards and follow friends on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with their engagements, birthdays, careers and pregnancies. Our identity is dictated by a grid and our thoughts are relegated to 280 characters. We share what we did five minutes ago, events we’re going to next week and things we hope to do ten years down the road. So many of our beliefs and priorities are left out of our social media profiles when we could be sharing our desire to make a difference or support a mission that is creating a positive impact in the world around us. The question is: Why aren’t we associating our favorite causes with our social network?
Do you support breast cancer research because you lost your sister to breast cancer? Maybe you are traumatized by the spike in gun violence and want to take action to end access to assault weapons? If we can use social media to convey the most minute of daily activities, we can certainly harness its power to create the ultimate charitable giving platform. I wanted to be able to gift my friends a donation to their favorite nonprofit organization instead of sending them another card, candle or gift that would likely collect dust in a cabinet for eternity. That’s why I started inLieu, a social giving app that allows you to support your friends by giving to the causes they love.
I wear these causes on my sleeve and challenge you to do the same. With inLieu, you can add your favorite organizations to your profile and allow your loved ones to donate directly to what matters to you.
Here are five organizations that inspire me to give good over goods:
Traveling has been an enriching source of perspective since my first trip around the globe in 1994. The friendships I’ve cultivated and experiences I’ve shared have defined who I am today. HeartGift is an Austin-based organization that supports kids from around the world who are born with congenital heart defects and don’t have access to appropriate medical facilities. HeartGift brings these kids to Austin for life- saving medical care. Though I served on the board for many years, hosting children has been the most rewarding and transformative experience. Over the past six years, my family has been lucky enough to host eight kids from six countries. Joining these families on a mission to save their child’s life is a true gift that makes me feel like I’m giving back in honor of all the strangers who guided me, fed me and protected me all those years while traveling alone as a single woman.
When I discovered the SAFE Alliance (formerly Austin Children’s Shelter), I felt an instant connection — I know of too many young women and children that didn’t have the resources or education necessary to protect and advocate for themselves. They provide intervention and prevention services to victims of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault. I serve on their board and have been a direct care volunteer in various capacities over the past 15 years. I volunteered in their preschool as part of the child abuse prevention program. This not only gave me perspective but taught me how to be a better parent. The services they provide to the community remind me how strong these kids are — you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option. The clients and staff at SAFE are some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.
Communities in Schools
Communities in Schools builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed. Opportunity is a prerequisite for success. This might look different for everyone, but includes things like a loving family, or access to wealth, education, and a supportive community. As a young woman, I was lucky to have support from people who believed in my potential to contribute to a kinder world. Unfortunately, we’re not all born with the same level of access. Communities in Schools provides kids with access to the resources they need in order to forge their own paths to success.
When my mother was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, nobody was shocked. Though painful to watch, we have taken my mother’s disease in stride and have maintained an optimistic outlook as best we can. It helped that my mom was so open and present in the process. I wanted to help bring awareness to this disease, the people who suffer and the loved ones that support them. My grandmother developed the disease over 35 years ago and since scientists believe that it has genetic, lifestyle and environmental components, we prepared for the worst. The Alzheimer’s Association provides support for all parties involved and sheds light on what we can do if we work together in an empathic, open environment.
Generation Serve (formerly Little Helping Hand) facilitates volunteer opportunities for the entire family. Volunteering as a family taught my kids the importance of giving back to the community in the form of time and talent. My dad always preached that “the best gift you can give is your time.” By spending quality time with my girls and volunteering for local nonprofits, we learned about a variety of diverse causes and the impact they had on our community.
These organizations have made an immense impact on my life and the lives of those in my community. As a society, we can redirect our efforts and use social media networking as a way of showing up for the people and causes who need it most.
I challenge you to quit the liking and scrolling. Convert your precious time into impactful support for friends by funding causes dear to them. Now it’s your turn to share with the ones you love and #GiveinLieu. Wear your causes on your sleeve and start giving today.